Link Building Campaign Guide

Adam Steele
Apr 20
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With link building campaigns now costing digital marketers thousands of dollars every year and climbing, it’s understandable why this SEO strategy continues to attract a lot of debate and controversy.

If you ask SEO experts, 41% of them would tell you that the Google search algorithm has evolved to the point of making link building the most difficult part of SEO.

So difficult is it, in fact, that 46% of marketers are spending a whopping $10,000 or more per year on link building campaigns, while 22% are reportedly parting with $1,000 to $2,500.

And if you thought it couldn’t get any worse than that, 41% of marketers would strongly disagree. They argue that due to the growing emphasis on high-quality backlinks, your link building campaign is going to cost more in the future.

They’re already buying each link at $361.44 despite Google’s continued disapproval of solicited links and any form of proactive link building tactics. It just so happens that the search engine even has a way of detecting and penalizing such links.

Or does it?

Well, as it turns out, there’s a fine line between a successful link building campaign and spammy backlinks…

What Is A Link Building Campaign?

A link building campaign is a set of SEO strategies that are meant to increasingly acquire referral backlinks from external websites – all for the sake of improving the recipient’s search engine rankings.

You see, although Google’s Webmaster Guidelines insist that backlinks should be earned organically without any form of solicitation, the fact of the matter is, 94% of the web content today still doesn’t have any external links.

It’s through link building strategies that webmasters get to intervene by actively and passively seeking backlink opportunities. The point is to get third-party websites to publish hyperlinks that point towards relevant directories or content assets on your site.

And by so doing, you manage to gain credibility as an authority in the subject topic – which then translates into improved search engine rankings, as well as more inbound traffic from the referral sources.

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Google’s description of unnatural links. Source: Google Webmaster Guidelines

Now to put it perspective, link building is the principal reason why 73.6% of high-traffic websites (receiving more than 10,000 hits per month) happen to have reciprocal links.

And that’s not all. You’ll find the same trend of reciprocal links in 4 to 5 out of every top 10 rankings in the SERPs.

Why is it important?

A link building campaign is important because of, among other reasons, its influence on search engine algorithms.

Take Google, for instance. While its search algorithm reportedly relies on more than 200 ranking factors, backlinks take precedence over almost everything else.

Recently, in fact, the Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google painted an even more vivid picture of their significance. He explained that links are among to top three most critical ranking factors, alongside content and RankBrain.

But how does this work?

Well, according to Google, inbound links are a reliable indicator of a website’s authority in a particular subject. Its crawlers are engineered to perceive the hyperlinked text as some form of attribution that points out where the referral domain retrieved its insights.

As such, the information source – or recipient domain – is identified as a credible authority in the subject matter, which is a position that deserves a favorable SERP ranking.

Basically, the more backlinks you happen to attract from different external sites on a certain subject, the higher you stand to rise in the rankings. Each inbound link is more like an endorsement that reinforces your status as the subject authority. The referral sites are essentially telling Google that you’re the man to refer to for relevant information on the subject matter.

Now, that’s where a link building campaign comes in. It’s meant to fast-track the whole process by steadily increasing the number of links that are pointing towards your website.

Instead of waiting forever to get discovered by other webmasters and bloggers in your field, you could use a link building campaign to actively seek out and leverage as many opportunities as possible.

But, make no mistake about it. Link building isn’t just about increasing the number of backlinks.

You see, back in the early 2010’s search engines had to drop quantity as the sole metric for analyzing backlinks. This was in response to widespread cases of black hat SEO practitioners spamming the web with unnatural inbound links to manipulate the ranking algorithms.

Google itself rolled out the Penguin algorithm update in 2012, which has since shifted the focus from quantitative to qualitative analysis. That means that although PageRank might take into account the volume of backlinks pointing to your site, it’ll pay more attention to the corresponding quality.

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Google’s Matt Cutts Tweet on releasing Penguin 2.1. Source: Twitter

This has completely changed how SEO experts approach link building. Instead of randomly distributing backlinks by volume, they take the time to methodically establish high-quality links from relevant external referral domains.

Google itself emphasizes that good links should appear naturally within the context of the subject.

What’s more, backlinks from high authority sites tend to be the most impactful, as they’re considered to be way more credible than the rest.

What is the fastest way to start a link building campaign?

While there are many ways in which you could approach a link building campaign, data-driven techniques carry the day as the fastest and most accurate.

There is where you bring in a specialized research tool to do the digging on your behalf, after which it should provide accurate metrics into relevant link building opportunities.

You could, for instance, try out a powerful SEO intelligence platform like Ahrefs, Moz, or SEMrush. They all come in the form of an all-inclusive digital suite, complete with tools for backlink analysis, link auditing, domain review, competitor tracking, keyword research, and on-page optimization.

8 Elements Of A Successful Link Building Campaign

1. Review any current linkable assets

You can start, for instance, by identifying all the relevant linkable assets on your website.

These are the data-rich content publications that’ll act as the primary hooks or connection points to the external anchor text. They are the “references” that the referral domains will be pointing towards.

Common examples of linkable assets include:

  • Infographics
  • Whitepapers
  • Blog posts
  • Research presentations
  • Industry reports

Your ideal piece of content depends on the particulars that you’d like to share, the focus industry, your link building goals, as well as the site’s content marketing strategy.

It pays, for example, to prioritize infographics, along with “why” and what” articles. These types of content have been shown to attract 25% more links than videos and “how-to” posts.

That notwithstanding, though, you might want to focus on the trendiest topics in your field. Use content research tools like SpyFu and SEMrush to discover what people are searching for, and then publish insightful high-value pieces on the topics.

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Article topic research on SEMrush.

2. Review your current backlink opportunities

This is is where you calculatedly scan the web to discover all the backlink opportunities that you could possibly capitalize on to create a new link to your site.

You could, for instance, reach out to bloggers in your network for possible guest blogging opportunities. And while you’re at it, maybe even try building relationships with popular publishers in other industries that are closely related to yours.

Now, to make this entire process much easier, it’s always advisable to let SEO data tools do the digging for you. The likes of Moz, Ahrefs, and SEMrush happen to be particularly good at discovering even the deeply hidden backlink opportunities.

Take Ahrefs and Moz, for example. They both come with a backlink checker that’s capable of identifying even relevant broken links in your industry. We’re talking about those backlinks that point towards invalid web pages and expired domains.

Just be patient and you’ll find relevant ones that fit into your site’s context. You could subsequently contact the administrators of the referral domains, and then provide them with alternative links to live content on your site. This is what, in technical terms, is known as broken link building.

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Broken link analysis on Ahrefs

You could, otherwise, hunt for opportunities from forums and sites that have featured your brand. SEMrush has this Brand Monitoring tool that will notify you whenever your brand is mentioned on the web. So, you should be able to discover multiple instances in which your brand has been mentioned without an attribution link.

3. Set link building goals to aim for

Don’t just randomly publish links in the hope that the Google search algorithms will somehow pick them up at some point. Rather, you ought to follow a pre-specified plan when implementing the whole link building campaign.

And we’re not talking about an arbitrary plan. The strategy that you formulate should be based on your campaign goals, as well as the overall objectives of your business.

For example – it would be unwise to indiscriminately include external sites in your backlink outreach program without first establishing how they would impact your website and business. Every single move that you make should be well-aligned with what you seek to achieve in the short and long term.

But how do you even come up with these goals?

Well, the trick to defining your campaign goals is beginning with the context. It’s only by understanding the context of your website, audience, market, and industry that you get to build an appropriate link building strategy.

In particular, you should consider:

  • What your brand stands for.
  • The type of items that you’re selling.
  • The type of prospects you’re targeting.
  • How your sales funnel is structured.
  • How your target audience interacts with different types of web pages.
  • How the external links will be tied to your content marketing schedule.
  • The type of content published on your web pages.
  • Your internal linking structure.
  • What keywords you’re targeting throughout the campaign.

By taking these factors into account, you’ll ultimately piece together a link building campaign that’s bound to positively impact your business bottom line.

4. Review what is working now

As you’ll come to learn, publishing insightful content pieces doesn’t guarantee backlinks. You should, instead, focus specifically on the main topics and items of interest. This is one common tactic you’ll find being used across the 2.2% of online content that boasts multiple backlinks.

And how do you get to find out what your audience is interested in?

Well, one way is to review their organic search and traffic patterns. This is where you get yourself a robust SEO research tool like SE Ranking, SEMrush, or SpyFu – for insights into what people are searching for, plus what they’re clicking on.

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Keyword research tool on SEMrush.

And as you’d expect, the most popular topics are usually the most competitive. You’ll notice that they even get the highest Keyword Density (KD) scores on SEMrush.

That shouldn’t faze you, though. While hacking the trending topics might prove to be a challenge, it all pays off quite handsomely if you make it to the top.

An analysis of 11.8 million Google search results showed that the sites ranking on position one tend to attract 3.8 more backlinks than their counterparts on positions two to ten.

Another place that you might want to check out is social media. A quick analysis of the hashtags in your field could give you a rough idea of what people are talking about.

But, for more accurate analytics,  you could again turn to SEMrush – as its Social Media Toolkit offers deep insights into the engagement patterns across social media sites. You can then go ahead and create thought-provoking content on the most engaging topics.

And if you happen to have already published the content, maybe you could repurpose it all to gain more attention from third-party sites.

Tweaking the headlines alone, for instance, could increase your organic traffic volume by up to 500%.

Then if the content is too thin, you might want to bump it up with all the relevant information that you can find. A final word count of 3,000 – 10,000 should be good enough – as such long-form pieces have been shown to draw 77.2% more backlinks than shorter articles.

And to improve your odds even further, consider turning some of the posts into insightful listicles – complete with numbered headlines. For example, you could thoughtfully repurpose a couple of popular topics with a twist like “10 Tips For…..” or “ The 5 Best…

Such listicle posts, as it turns out, are a favorite among referral domains. On average, they get about 6.19 referring domains per article, which places them ahead of other forms of content.

5. Prioritize your best keywords and most profitable pages

To match up your backlinks with the right search queries, Google’s ranking algorithm takes into account the terms and phrasing in the hyperlinked anchor text.

That means that if you intend to improve your rankings for a search term such as “Best Mechanical Keyboards”, then you might want to target this particular key phrase in your link building campaign.

You could, for instance, have the keyword as the backlink anchor text in all your guest blogging submissions. Then to optimize the campaign even further, you could try to focus specifically on high authority publishers.

Here’s the kicker, though. All those efforts would eventually add up to nothing if you happen to select the wrong keywords.

Now, by “wrong” we mean any irrelevant and unpopular keywords. Guest posting them on high domain authority sites might generate positive results on the keyword rankings all right – but the good rankings will barely have an audience.

Unfortunately, this mistake is way more common than you’d assume. A majority of the victims are webmasters who arbitrarily select their keyword terms without realizing the huge margin for error in organic search.

You see, as it turns out, 60.67% of all organic searches come from just 0.16% of the most popular keywords. And on the other end of the spectrum, it just so happens that 92.42% of the keywords typically end up with ten searches per month or fewer.

So, in short, there’s only one way to be sure about your target keywords. You’ve got to conduct in-depth keyword research on data-rich SEO research platforms, after which you can proceed to pick the most appropriate ones for your link building campaign based on their traffic and competitiveness insights.

Also, while you’re at it, try to select the keywords based on the specific web pages that you’ll be linking to.

The goal here is to eventually link the primary keywords to your most profitable web pages. So, avoid linking to generic sections such as the homepage – and, instead, prioritize the highly insightful assets that your audience would be interested in.

6. Reverse engineer your competitors

One of the biggest ironies in link building is, the competitors who make everything tough for you are the same ones who’ll hand you the shortcuts to building your campaigns.

Confusing?

Well, here’s the simplified version. Basically, it’s your biggest competitors who possess the templates that you could use to launch your link building campaign. By gaining inbound links from external sites, they’ll be showing you how to do the same and from whom to source for the links.

This is all thanks to the competitor analysis capabilities that are included on SEMrush, Ahrefs, Moz, SpyFU, and the Loganix Domain Authority Checker.

You can count on them to not only identify your main competitors, but also dive deep into their web data to reveal what’s really under the hood.

All it takes is a simple search of your competitors’ domains and the tools will display the relevant link building analytics.

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Competitor analysis on Ahrefs

You should, for instance, be able to view their domain authority, as well as review the strength of their backlink profiles. Most importantly, though, you’ll find out where they’ve been getting their inbound links from.

And with that, you could try to reverse engineer the referral domains by tactfully converting them into your own link building opportunities.

It all begins with sorting out the third-party publishers based on relevance and domain authority. This will give you a solid list of solid high authority prospects to headline your link building campaign.

The next step would, of course, be setting up an email outreach campaign to build relationships and share your links.

Ultimately, some of the prospects would be open to guest blogging, others might go ahead and publish your backlinks alongside your competitors, while a handful could even replace your competitors’ links with backlinks to your more resourceful content.

7. Think about possible bottlenecks

A link building campaign isn’t just about expanding your backlink profile. Rather, it should serve you dynamically across two fronts – offensive and defensive.

On the offensive front, your campaign should be helping you create relationships with external publishers, gain high-quality inbound links, and reinforce your overall backlink profile.

Then on the defensive front, the same campaign ought to flag up and help you eliminate all the issues that could possibly be compromising your backlink profile.

That said, the cleanups should be especially seamless if you leave the analysis to a dedicated backlink audit tool. This is another area where SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Moz feature quite extensively – as they all come with an AI-driven link audit engine.

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Backlink audit tool on SEMrush.

Whichever brand you select, the backlink audit tool will periodically conduct a deep analysis of your internal and external links to detect any underlying anomalies.

For example – if you unknowingly acquire toxic backlinks from black hat sources such as link farms, you can count on the audit tool to detect them in real-time and assist with link disavowal.

Other than that, they should be able to sniff out low-quality backlinks, link over-optimization instances, an unbalanced ratio between Nofollow and dofollow links, broken links, etc.

8. Be consistent

Finally, keep in mind that link building is a never-ending process. As long as your website is live, it should never come to end.

This is the case even when you manage to improve your rankings and traffic volume.

As you enjoy that newly-found status, your competitors will continue to work relentlessly in the background to outshine you. Then Google, on the other hand, will proceed to drop more than 4,500 algorithm updates per year.

That means that the search engine rankings are bound to keep fluctuating. One day you’re at the top but then on the next, your site is struggling to remain relevant in the SERPs.

That notwithstanding, however, it’s worth noting that you won’t be seeing any results from your link building campaign for some time. Typically, it takes about 6 months to 1 year before you start noticing noteworthy changes in your rankings.

But, don’t set your expectations too high. The changes won’t come in the form of a drastic jump to the top-ranking positions. Rather, your status will improve steadily as you sustain your link-building efforts.

So, keep running your outreach programs and creating quality content. While half of all bloggers generally publish content on a weekly basis or several times per month, the few who post more frequently maintain the deepest engagements, the highest influence, and the topmost ranking positions.

High-quality content will, in fact, have a compound impact on your SEO. The insights will win you backlinks while the keywords and phrases will feature your rankings across multiple search terms.

All in all, the best thing about being consistent is, the more you manage to grow your backlink profile, the wider your influence will spread in the industry, and the easier link building will get.

And if you happen to make it to position one of the search engine rankings, you’ll be passively attracting 5% – 14.5% more dofollow backlinks per month.

Start Your Link Building Campaign Now

In summary, we could say that while the concept of link building is fairly straightforward, the campaign bit is a different thing altogether.

Google’s algorithm updates have transformed it from a simple game of numbers into an intricately dynamic process that emphasizes quality, context, and, value.

Of course, some may argue that it’s now more cumbersome and costlier than ever before. And yes – they could be right.

That’s not how we see it, though. Rather, we’re celebrating the opportunities that come with Google’s renewed backlink weighting.

Think about it. By changing how it treats and analyzes inbound links, the Google search algorithm has taken the all power from blackhat SEO practitioners and given it to genuine SEO experts.

Now’s the time to take advantage of this to propel yourself ahead of your competitors. All you need is the backing of a strategic digital marketing partner like Loganix, and your rankings are guaranteed to improve quite remarkably.

You’ll be pleased that as part of Loganix’s SEO packages, our link building comes fully inclusive – we’ll take care of your guest posting, authority links, brank links, HARO links, keyword research, link audit, and content marketing.

Get started today and you’ll be blown away by the results in a few weeks.

Written by Adam Steele on April 20, 2022

COO and Product Director at Loganix. Recovering SEO, now focused on the understanding how Loganix can make the work-lives of SEO and agency folks more enjoyable, and profitable. Writing from beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia.